Posted on September 23, 2018 1:48 PM

Abortion On Demand: The Holy Grail of Democratic Politics

By Alfredo DiLascia - For a number of years now abortion has been the centerpiece, the "Holy Grail", of the Democratic Party. For candidates, and for those already holding office, if they support abortion, most other wrongdoings are forgiven or covered up.
There is no bigger example of this than Ted Kennedy who left a young woman scratching for air in a car while drowning under water in Chappaquiddick. His life of sexual harassment of women is legendary. Talk about Russian collusion, he secretly asked for Russian help in order to defeat Ronald Reagan's bid for the Presidency. Yet because he fully supported abortion, all this was easily excused, swept under the rug, and he became the" Lion of the Senate". He even took it one step further: He bore "false witness" as he massacred the reputation of a very good man and a respected legal scholar, Robert Bork, in his nomination for the Supreme Court. Let this be an example to what extent far left Democrats will go to remove even the hint of a Pro-Life person in any position of authority...especially the U.S. Supreme Court. 
The maxim of far left Democrats is "the end justifies the means", that doing ANYTHING to get a result is OK. Lie, steal, cheat, falsely accuse...destroy other people--it is all OK since "WE" know what is better, therefore anything we do to get there is justified. 
For the Supreme Court nomination of Clarence Thomas, in a last, desperate attempt to defeat his nomination, came Anita Hill who accused him of (you guessed it) sexual harassment. Keep in mind: She followed him to two different jobs, in the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Additionally, there were at least 6 major inconsistencies with her testimony. Included were the testimonies of a dozen women who worked with Thomas and Hill. One woman who worked in close proximity in the office with Thomas and Hill said that it would have been impossible for her not to hear and see what Hill claimed.
Clarence Thomas is personally Pro-Life....even today they try to destroy him. "The end justifies the means."
Today, in an extremely similar way as with Anita Hill, at the 11th hour comes the accusation of sexual harassment. 36 years later and the ends still justify the means. Justice Brett Kavanaugh has a stellar background as a person and as an experienced legal scholar--a perfect fit for the Supreme Court. Yet the problem for the far left: He is personally Pro-Life. They need to destroy him, "the end justifies the means".
At the last minute along comes his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, who claims while in high school, 36 years ago, Kavanaugh assaulted her! Yet, like Hill, her accusations are highly questionable. (1) 36 years ago while in high school, you have to be kidding me!  (2) High school classmate, Mark Judge, who was there at the time said "It's absolutely nuts. I never saw Brett act that way". (3) What is not being brought forward enough is the fact that 65 women who went to high school at that time signed a letter which among other things stated "We are women who have known Brett Kavanaugh for more than 35 years and knew him while he attended high school between 1979 and 1983. For the entire time we have known Brett Kavanaugh, he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect. We strongly believe that it is important to convey this information to the Committee at this time." '
But the media does not bring this forward.
In addition to the specific accusation at this time, it is important to recognize the pattern that exists here. Abortion is the "Holy Grail" of the Democratic Party. In the cases of Bork / Kennedy; Thomas / Hill; and now Kavanaugh / Ford...the far left Democrats will CREATE and bring forward any accusations to defeat a nomination of a Supreme Court Justice if even there is a whisper of them being, personally, Pro-Life.
"The end justifies the means".
For God's sake...APPROVE BRETT KAVANAUGH!
Posted on September 15, 2018 8:00 AM

POLLS SHOW VOTERS LACK CONFIDENCE IN TRUMP’S ABILITY TO CONTROL THE WEATHER

With the election less than 60 days away, almost every poll shows Trump losing support. It’s a carefully orchestrated campaign to depress the Republican turnout in November.

Headline on September 10 story, “CNN Poll: Trump approval down 6 points in a month, hits low among independents.” And on NPR, “Midwest Abandons Trump, Fueling Democratic Advantage for Control of Congress.” The message: It’s all over except the cheering. Welcome Speaker Pelosi – or worse.

One thing none of these stories takes into account is the way they reflect the media’s success at smearing the President.

Many who will vote Republican in November are afraid to admit it to pollsters, for fear they’ll be thought of as a white nationalist-supremacist-bigot-Alt-Right hater. But in the privacy of the voting booth, they’ll vote their pocketbook, border security and the flag – as well as revulsion over the tactics of the so-called Resistance.

Remember the shocked faces at the Networks on election night 2016? Trump was winning -- but how could that be? All of the polls showed him losing in a rout of epic proportions.  Remember: “Increasingly narrow path to the White House for Trump”? Love that narrow path!

In 11 different polls taken days before the election, Trump’s disapproval rating ranged from a high of 61% to a low of 55%. His favorability ratings were generally in the mid-30s. On favorability, Hillary had almost a 4-point advantage over the man who beat her.

Hoping we’ll forget what happened in 2016, the same pollsters are at it again.

Conclusion: Work like hell for Republican candidates, pray and ignore opinion polls.

Posted on August 29, 2018 11:00 AM

MCFL Federal PAC Announces Support

The MCFL Federal PAC, an entity registered with the FEC to support or oppose candidates, has announced its endorsement of John Hugo in the 5th Congressional District. From its recent announcement:

"The Massachusetts Citizens for Life Federal Political Action Committee is pleased to endorse John Hugo for Congress in the 5th Congressional District Republican Primary," said John Roe, PAC Chairman. "There is a stark contrast between Hugo and his opponent on the life issues. John Hugo is pro-life. His opponent is not”

The winner of the Primary will face Congresswoman Katherine Clark, a leader of the pro-abortion force in the U.S. House, in the November general election.

"All voters who are concerned with the right to life and with the protection of the most vulnerable members of the human family should vote to send John Hugo to Congress, so that he can work to advance vital pro-life public policies," concluded Mr. Roe.

This announcement is for informational purposes.

To learn more about where various candidates stand, visit the legislators and candidates section of our website.

Posted on August 21, 2018 11:50 AM

Once Roe Is Overturned...


Once Roe v. Wade is overturned, it will be necessary for us to amend the Massachusetts Constitution to protect life at all stages.  This Life Institute analysis of the recent vote in Ireland highlights the things we will face. It is very helpful for us to begin thinking and acting now.

 

Posted on August 16, 2018 2:56 PM

Balancing Act


People often ask how Dr. Bill Lawton (left) is doing so we are grateful to share Patsy's Journal entry.

By Patsy Lawton

It is amazing how the weeks fly by and how grateful we are to realize that Bill passed the one year mark since his diagnosis on June 23rd.  Each day with Bill on earth is truly a gift from God!  

Since the last journal update on June 4th, Bill has been on second-line FDA approved chemo drugs with more serious side effects.  Over the past 5 cycles (given every other week) Bill has experienced weight loss, GI challenges, more fatigue & weakness and one 4 day hospital.  After preaching low or no salt for his whole professional life, Bill needs to add salt due to very low blood pressures.  Each day since on the new chemo regiment, Bill is juggling the ideal balance of the GI track not moving too slowly or too fast and controlling the abdominal pain without feeling too tired, weak or sleepy.  We continue to appreciate the excellent medical care at UMass in Worcester & the guidance of Bill's oncologist.  The next CT scan is scheduled for the end of this month which will indicate the effectiveness of the current treatment.

We continue to be surrounded by loving, praying faithful friends and family bringing us joy, strength and courage.  During the past 6 weeks we've enjoyed wonderful visits with our son and family from KS (including grandsons from Chicago & Denver), our covenant friends & pastor from church, our good friend from Egypt, the Ryan family and daily visits with Jeanne, John, Anela & John.

Each day we are greeted by the beauty of God's creation with the wonders and sights of living on Lake Singletary.  Our special friend, the great heron, hangs out on our dock or raft.  We've both enjoyed boat rides and "swimming"/floating in the lake.  Daily delights include walks in the yard to see the beautiful flowers, check out the vegetable garden and see what the deer have been nibbling on overnight!   Bill has taken to heart the advice of his "big" sister, Jan, to focus on the good parts of each day.  We are reminded and thankful that "The faithful love of the Lord never ends.  His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning."  Lamentations 3:22-23

Thanks for your great love & care and the many ways you keep in touch with us.
Hugs, Patsy & Bill

Posted on August 14, 2018 7:24 PM

Discrediting Single Issue Voters

In Understanding what’s behind the ceaseless attempts to discredit single-issue voters, i.e., pro-lifers, National Right to Life News Editor Dave Andrusko makes some excellent points about the effectiveness of being single issue and why that bothers the other side so much.

"The goal is either to discredit pro-lifers in general or to announce that someone has discovered (voilà!) that single-issue pro-life groups are passé. Never mind all that this insistence not to be dragged into other issues has accomplished against pro-abortion forces that have access to money by the billions and the unwavering support of virtually the entirety of the 
cultural/media establishment. They know better."

Well put, Dave!

Posted on August 06, 2018 1:15 PM

Two sides of the debate over abortion and federal funds


Reprinted with permission - 

Governor Charlie Baker is clearly misguided in opposing President Trump’s proposed changes in Title X funding to enforce the federal ban on tax dollars for abortion (“Baker hits US abortion proposal,” Metro, July 24). The changes would not endanger women’s health care, as Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito implied in their letter of comment to the US Department of Health and Human Services and the White House budget director. Rather, the changes would reduce taxpayer subsidies to Planned Parenthood, a major special interest group that performs more than 300,000 abortions nationwide each year.

It’s no wonder the Baker-Polito challenge to Trump’s proposal was cheered by the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts and by politicians favoring abortion rights.

Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize a procedure that results in ending a human life.

Gail Besse Ryberg

Hingham

Posted on July 26, 2018 12:43 PM

Grandson of Stalin Admirer Pushes Stalinist Population Control

By Don Feder

A super-rich Democrat Congressional Candidate has given generously to a group that wants to tax parents who have more than two children. Scott Wallace is a grandson of FDR’s 2nd. Vice President, Henry Wallace, who thought Stalin was really cool.

Through his family’s Wallace Global Fund, Scott has funneled ten of millions to leftist causes. The Republican Jewish Coalition discloses that over the past 20 years, the Democrat candidate in Pennsylvania’s 1st. Congressional District has given more than $300,000 to the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, which targets Israel for economic annihilation.

He’s also given $7 million to the death-dealers of Planned Parenthood, NOW, and their allies.

FOX News reports Wallace gave more than $1 million to a group pushing zero population growth, so it could promote a plan to tax ”irresponsible breeders” (families with more than two children).

It’s funny, in a sick sort of way. The pro-abortion movement says it’s about “choice.” But those who won’t tow the party line get none. It would force taxpayers to pay for abortion, force pregnancy resource centers to “offer” abortion as an alternative, force America to promote abortion and contraception overseas, and now, force families to pay to have more than two kids.

They really do hate the idea of procreation – believe it’s a threat to the planet.

This, while worldwide fertility rates have declined 50% since the 1960s. America now has a fertility rate of 1.7 children per woman, well below the replacement level of 2.1. Where will the workers of tomorrow come from? South of the border? Mexico’s fertility rate is barely at replacement.

The groups Scott Wallace supports with his family’s money have a Stalinist approach to the family. If the mini-Soros is elected, he’ll make a fitting addition to a political menagerie of the left that includes Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Maxine Waters, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Governors Jerry Brown and Andrew Cuomo.

Posted on July 17, 2018 11:40 AM

Post Roe v. Wade Massachusetts

By Anne Fox - 

Post - Roe v Wade Massachusetts

The pro-abs and their cheerleaders in the media are threatening that Roe v. Wade will be overturned within 18 months and “people will die”.  Actually, people are dying now - more than 2500 babies each and every day!

In Massachusetts, there are still some old abortion restrictions on the books. Of course they have not been enforced or enforceable since Roe v Wade.

The other side has been talking for years about overturning these laws. - every time they need to stir up the troops. This time the Senate actually passed it 38 - 0 and it may well be voted on in the House on July 18, 2018.

They claim, that, if or when Roe v Wade is overturned, those old laws will  kick in and abortion will be illegal in Massachusetts.  That would be wonderful but it is exactly the opposite of the truth.

The truth is that Massachusetts is one of the fifteen states which have abortion enshrined in their state Constitutions. Overturning Roe v. Wade will change nothing in the state.

It is a fact that a state Constitution can offer more rights than the federal Constitution, but not fewer. This developed because of voting rights. The Massachusetts legislature passed the Doyle-Flynn bill which stated that no state funds would be used for abortion and Governor Ed King signed it in June 1979

The U.S. Supreme Court had found that the Hyde Amendment, which was essentially the same, was constitutional.

Instead of saying the Massachusetts Constitution could offer greater right to life, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court looked at abortion rights and found in 1981 that the MA Constitution would offer more rights to abortion and abortion funding than the U.S. Constitution.

The Massachusetts Declaration of Rights affords a greater degree of protection to a woman's right to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy by abortion than does the Federal Constitution, as interpreted by Harris v. McRae. (1980).

When Roe v. Wade is overturned, it will not affect the Massachusetts Constitution. The only way we will be able to pass any abortion restrictions will be to amend the Massachusetts Constitution, not just on funding, but on abortion as a whole.

Some states have already done this.  We need to look at their results:

Rhode Island Constitution, Article 1, Section2 (passed in 1986)

All free governments are instituted for the protection, safety, and

happiness of the people. All the laws, therefore, should be made for the

good of the whole; and the burdens of the state ought to be fairly distributed

among its citizens. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property

without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied protection of the

laws. No otherwise qualified person shall, solely by reason of race, gender

or handicap be subject to discrimination by the state, its agents or any

person or entity doing business with the state. Nothing in this section shall

be construed to grant or secure any right relating to abortion or the funding

thereof.

--

Tennessee passed the following Amendment in 2015

Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.

--

Arkansas Constitution: Amendment 68.

AMENDMENT 68.

 Sec. 1.  Public funding.

No public funds will be used to pay for any abortion, except to save the mother's life.

 Sec. 2.  Public policy.

The policy of Arkansas is to protect the life of every unborn child from conception untul birth, to the extent permitted by the Federal Constitution.

 Sec. 3.  Effect of amendment.  

This amendment will not effect contraceptives or require an appropriation of public funds.

Other states have already put questions on the ballot for this fall:

West Virginia ballot 2018 (put on the ballot with a 2/3vote of the legislature)

“Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.”

--

This is on the ballot in Alabama

(a) This state acknowledges, declares, and affirms that it is the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life.

(b) This state further acknowledges, declares, and affirms that it is the public policy of this state to ensure the protection of the rights of the unborn child in all manners and measures lawful and appropriate.

(c) Nothing in this constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.[3]

--

The Missouri proposal states that "nothing in this constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion."

--

Meanwhile the other side is doing its work. They are challenging abortion laws across the country on the basis of – you guessed it – state Constitutions protecting more rights than the federal Constitution.

Kansas is an extremely pro-life state. When the pro-abs challenged the first in the nation dismemberment ban, a lower court judge declared the Kansas Constitution, separate from the U.S. Constitution, protected abortion rights of women in the state. The Kansas Court of Appeals deadlocked on appeal, sending it to the Kansas Supreme Court, which has not ruled.

Stephen McAllister, representing the state of Kansas, understands judicial philosophy better than the Roe Court when he said the Supreme Court was being asked by opponents of the abortion statute to engage in a brand of judicial activism that ignored text of the state’s constitution and the well-established, anti-abortion preference of Kansans.

“If the people of Kansas want to create a constitutional right to abortion, they have a ready mechanism for doing so — the constitutional amendment process,” he said. “Kansans have not been shy about utilizing it. In fact, there have been at least 29 amendments approved in the last 40 years since Roe vs. Wade was decided.”

We have a lot to learn from the states which have amended their Constitutions!  We will have to double our efforts to restore protection in Massachusetts for all human beings from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death!

Posted on July 11, 2018 1:58 PM

Myths Vs. Facts on DPS

By Ronald W. Pies, MD and Annette Hanson, MD (Originally published on July 7, 2018)

Editor’s note: The presented analysis in this submitted column reflects the views of the authors, not necessarily those of MD Mag. Health care professionals and researchers interested in responding to this piece or similarly contributing to MD Mag can contact the editorial staff here.

Introduction

In an age of “alternative facts”, it’s hard to sort out myth from reality when it comes to so-called ‘medical-aid-in-dying’ (MAID)—also called physician assisted suicide (PAS). By whatever label we attach to it, this practice involves a physician’s prescribing a lethal drug for a patient with a putatively terminal illness who is requesting this “service.” Some form of MAID/PAS is now legal in 5 states and the District of Columbia.

People of good conscience, including many physicians, are sharply divided on the ethics of MAID/PAS. Unfortunately, much of the support for this practice is founded on several myths and misconceptions regarding existing MAID laws and practices. Here are 12 of the most common.

1. Everyone has a “right to die”, including a right to take one’s own life, acting alone or with assistance. 

In contrast to “liberties”, rights entail the cooperation or assistance of others.1 Mentally competent people may be at liberty to end their own lives (i.e., will not be prosecuted), but there is no recognized right to suicide that involves the cooperation of others. In Washington v. Glucksberg [521 U.S. 702 (1997)], the US Supreme Court (USSC) denied that there is a constitutionally-protected “right to commit suicide” or a right to PAS. To rule otherwise, the majority held, would force them to “reverse centuries of legal doctrine and practice, and strike down the considered policy choice of almost every state.”

That said, the USSC has held that all competent persons have the right to refuse unwanted or “heroic” measures that merely prolong the dying process.2 Similarly, in Vacco v. Quill [521 U.S. 793(1997)], the USSC held that there is a legal difference between withdrawal of care and provision of a lethal intervention; i.e., everyone has a right to refuse medical care, but no one has a “right” to receive a lethal means of ending one’s life.

2. People who request “medical aid in dying” usually do so because they are experiencing severe, intractable pain and suffering.

Most requests for medical-aid-in-dying are not made by patients experiencing “untreatable pain or suffering”, as data from Oregon have shown; rather, the most common reasons for requesting medical aid in dying were loss of autonomy (97.2%), inability to engage in enjoyable activities (88.9%), and loss of dignity (75.0%).3

Many patients who request assisted suicide are clinically depressed and could be successfully treated, once properly diagnosed.

3. In states such as Oregon and Washington, where PAS is legal, there are adequate safeguards in place to ensure proper application of the PAS law. 

In Oregon, reporting to the state is done solely by the physician prescribing the lethal drugs, who has a vested interest in minimizing problems. Moreover, if a physician was negligent in making the initial diagnosis or prognosis, there is no way to track this, since, by law, all death certificates will state that the person died of the putative underlying disease. At the same time, the physician is rarely present at the time the patient ingests the lethal drug, so the possibility of abuse—e.g., by coercive family members—cannot be adequately assessed.

The Oregon department of human services has said it has no authority to investigate individual death-with-dignity cases,4 and Oregon has acknowledged that its law does not adequately protect all people with mental illness from receiving lethal prescriptions.5 Thus, it is nearly impossible to determine cases in which, for example, terminally ill patients were pressured to end their lives by family members. A study in the Michigan Law Review (2008) found that “seemingly reasonable safeguards for the care and protection of terminally ill patients written into the Oregon law are being circumvented…[and that]…the Oregon Public Health Division (OPHD), which is charged with monitoring the law…does not collect the information it would need to effectively monitor the law…OPHD…acts as the defender of the law rather than as the protector of the welfare of terminally ill patients.”6

Kenneth R. Stevens, Jr., MD, and William I. Toffler, MD, both of the Oregon Health & Science University, point to other actual or potential abuses in PAS-permissive states, including "physician shopping" to get around safeguards; nurse-assisted suicide without orders from a physician; and economic pressures to use PAS, such as Oregon Medicaid patients being denied cancer treatment but offered coverage for assisted suicide.Furthermore, an investigative piece by the Des Moines Register revealed that mandatory reporting requirements were not followed by hundreds of doctors in states where MAID/PAS is legal.8

4. In the US, only people with terminal or incurable illnesses are eligible for PAS.

Most PAS legislation applies to an adult with a terminal illness or condition predicted to have less than 6 months to live. In Oregon and Washington State, nearly identical criteria are interpreted to mean less than 6 months to live—specifically, without treatment.  Thus, a healthy 20-year-old with insulin-dependent diabetes could be deemed “terminal” for the purpose of Oregon’s “Death with Dignity Act.”

 So, too, patients refusing appropriate treatment may be deemed “terminal” under current interpretation of the Oregon law. Thus, a patient with anorexia nervosa who refused treatment could be eligible for PAS under Oregon law, even though she could recover with intensive therapy. As Swedish investigator Fabian Stahle observes, “This is in fact an alteration of the traditional meaning of the concept of ‘incurable.’”9

5. “Slippery slope” arguments against PAS are overblown. In European countries that allow PAS, there is no evidence that patients are being euthanized improperly. 

People with non-terminal illnesses have been legally euthanized at their own request in several countries for nearly 15 years. This has included certain eligible patients who have only psychiatric disorders. In 2002, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg removed any distinctions between terminal and non-terminal conditions—and between physical suffering and mental suffering—for legally permitted PAS. Between 2008 and 2014, more than 200 psychiatric patients were euthanized by their own request in the Netherlands (1% of all euthanasia in that country). Among them, 52% had a diagnosis of personality disorder, 56% refused 1 or more offered treatments, and 20% had never even had an inpatient stay (1 indication of previous treatment intensity). When asked the primary reason for seeking PAS/euthanasia, 66% cited “social isolation and loneliness.”

Despite the legal requirement for agreement between outside consultants, for 24% of psychiatric patients euthanized, at least 1 outside consultant disagreed.10-12   

The US has not been immune to the slippery slope, either. For example, in Oregon, a psychiatrist opened a fee-for-service death clinic, where for $5,000, “terminally ill patients who are eligible to take advantage of…Oregon's suicide law can book a death that might look a lot like a wedding package.” 13

6. The method of “assisted dying” now used in Oregon and other PAS-states assures the patient of a quick, peaceful death, without serious complications. 

A peaceful death is by no means guaranteed using current methods of PAS, as a recent piece by Lo pointed out: 14 “Physicians who support PAD need to consider how to address the potential for adverse outcomes, including longer time to death than expected (up to 24 hours or more), awakening from unconsciousness, nausea, vomiting, and gasping.”

Data collected between 1998-2015 showed that the time between ingestion of lethal drugs and death ranged from 1 minute to more than 4 days. During this same period (1998-2015), 27 cases (out of 994) involved difficulty ingesting or regurgitating the drugs, and there were 6 known instances in which patients regained consciousness after ingesting the drugs. However, it is difficult to know the actual rate of drug-induced complications, since in the majority (54%) of cases between1998-2015, no health care professional was present to attend and observe the patient’s death.15  

7. “Death with Dignity” all comes down to the patient’s autonomy, and the right of patients to end life on their terms.

In the first place, under current legislation permitting so-called medical aid in dying, the patient is completely dependent on the judgment, authorization, and prescriptive power of the physician—hardly a state of autonomy.1 Moreover, autonomy is only 1 of the 4 ‘cornerstones’ of medical ethics; the others are beneficence, non-malfeasance and justice. As Desai and Grossberg observe in their textbook on long-term care:

“The preeminence of autonomy as an ethical principle in the United States can sometimes lead health care providers to disregard other moral considerations and common sense when making clinical decisions…we strongly feel that the role of the medical profession is to understand but not to support such wishes [for physician-assisted death]. Every person’s life is valuable, irrespective of one’s physical and mental state, even when that person has ceased to deem life valuable.”16

8. Doctors who conscientiously oppose PAS are perfectly free to refuse participation in it.  

In theory, the California guidelines state that "A healthcare provider who refuses to participate in activities under the act on the basis of conscience, morality or ethics cannot be subject to censure, discipline … or other penalty by a healthcare provider, professional association or organization," the guidelines say.17 However, prior to its PAS law being declared unconstitutional, physicians in California could be compelled to participate in PAS, under certain circumstances.

California's health department regulation requires a state facility to provide PAS. If the request is denied, the patient has a right to a judicial hearing on the matter. If the court determines the patient is qualified, the attending physician must write a prescription for lethal drugs.18 Moreover, there is evidence that physicians are sometimes pressured or intimidated by patients to assist in suicide.7

9. Terminally ill people who request MAID are not suicidal and don’t commit suicide. They are dying, and simply want “hastening” of an inevitable death. In contrast, genuinely suicidal people are not dying of a terminal condition, yet they want to die. 

This argument plays fast and loose with language, logic, and law. In fact, it turns ordinary language on its head, thereby eliminating suicide by linguistic fiat. As the American Nursing Association states, “suicide is the act of taking one's own life,”19 regardless of the act’s context. There may indeed be different psychological profiles that distinguish suicide in the context of terminal illness from suicide in other contexts, but that does not overturn the ordinary language meaning of suicide. Thus, when a terminally ill patient (or any other person) knowingly and intentionally ingests a lethal drug, that act is, incontrovertibly, suicide.

Most suicides occur in the context of serious psychiatric illness. Yet patients who express suicidal ideation in the context of a condition such as major depression rarely want to die; rather, as numerous suicide prevention websites note, “Most suicidal people do not want to die. They are experiencing severe emotional pain, and are desperate for the pain to go away.” 20

10. People requesting PAS are carefully screened by mental health professionals to rule out depression.    

Most PAS statutes modeled after the Oregon Death with Dignity statute do not require examination by a mental health professional, except when the participating physician is concerned and decides to do so. Specifically, “The patient is referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist if concern exists that the patient has a psychiatric disorder including depression that may impair judgment.”21  

A study of the Oregon law concluded that “Although most terminally ill Oregonians who receive aid in dying do not have depressive disorders, the current practice of the Death with Dignity Act may fail to protect some patients whose choices are influenced by depression from receiving a prescription for a lethal drug.”21  

In Oregon, 204 patients were prescribed lethal drugs in 2016 under the “Death with Dignity” statute, yet only 5 patients were referred for psychiatric or psychological evaluation.22  

11. Doctors who participate in PAS are almost always comfortable doing so and rarely regret their decision.

Many doctors who have participated in euthanasia and/or PAS are adversely affected— emotionally and psychologically—by their experiences. In a structured, in-depth telephone interview survey of 38 US oncologists who reported participating in euthanasia or PAS, nearly a quarter of the physicians regretted their actions. Another 16% reported that the emotional burden of performing euthanasia or PAS adversely affected their medical practice.23 For example, one physician felt so “burned out” that he moved from the city in which he was practicing to a small town. Similarly, reactions among European doctors suggest that PAS and euthanasia often provoke strong negative feelings.24  

12. For terminally ill patients, the only means of achieving “death with dignity” is by taking a lethal drug prescribed by one’s doctor.  

Only a small minority of persons with a terminal disease seek a physician’s prescription for a lethal drug. It is not clear why self-poisoning confers more dignity to one’s death than more traditional and much more common ways of dying. Many people who are dying choose to “bear with” their pain. Some seek hospice care and—in cases of severe, intractable pain—merit palliative sedation.25

Some choose voluntary stopping of eating and drinking (VSED), which, according to one study involving hospice nurses, results in a more satisfactory death than seen with PAS. In fact, “as compared with patients who died by physician-assisted suicide, those who stopped eating and drinking were rated by hospice nurses as suffering less and being more at peace in the last two weeks of life.”26

A form of VSED called ‘sallekhana’ has been practiced in the Jain religion for centuries and is regarded as an ethical and dignified means of achieving a “natural” death.27

Conclusion

The case for physician-assisted suicide legislation rests on a number of misconceptions, as regards the adequacy, safety, and application of existing PAS statutes. The best available evidence suggests that current practices under PAS statutes are not adequately monitored and do not adequately protect vulnerable populations, such as patients with clinical depression. The American College of Physicians,28the American Medical Association, the World Medical Association and the American Nurses Association have all registered opposition to physician-assisted suicide.

It is critical that physicians inform themselves as regards the actual nature and function—or dysfunction—of medical aid in dying legislation. The first step is to recognize and challenge the many myths that surround these well-intended but misguided laws.
 

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to recognize the important contributions of Dr. Mark Komrad and Mr. Alex Schadenberg to the discussion of physician-assisted suicide.

Ronald W. Pies, MD is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Lecturer on Bioethics at SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY; and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Tufts U. School of Medicine, Boston. 

Annette Hanson, MD, is Director of the Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship Program, and Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

 


References

  1. Szasz T: Fatal Freedom. Syracuse University Press, 1995. 
  2.  https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/does-the-constitution-protect-a-right-to-die
  3. Loggers ET, Starks H, Shannon-Dudley M et al. Implementing a Death with Dignity program at a comprehensive cancer center. N Engl J Med. 2013 Apr 11;368(15):1417-24.https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1213398
  4. Oregon board investigates failed assisted suicide. Jun 20, 2005 http://www.drugtopics.com/community-pharmacy/oregon-board-investigates-failed-assisted-suicide
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